What is calcium bezoate?
Calcium benzoate is commonly used as a food preservative. It is effective against yeasts, moulds, and certain types of bacteria. It is currently approved for use in the EU, Austalia, and New Zealand.
In its raw form, calcium benzoate appears as a white crystalline powder. It is a calcium salt of benzoic acid. In chemistry, the term salt refers to a particular set of compounds (ionic compounds) that result when an acid is neutralized by a base. In this case, benzoic acid, C6H5COOH, reacts with calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, to form the salt calcium benzoate, Ca(C7H5O2)2.
The effectiveness of benzoic acid and it’s salts depends on the acidity (pH) of the food. Apparently, the most common use of calcium benzoate is in fruit juice1. However, I have never found a product that lists it as an ingredient, likely because it is not an approved additive in Canada2.
If anybody knows of a product that specifically lists calcium benzoate as an ingredient, please let us know in the comments, or send me a message, and I’ll list it here.
Health Issues / Side Effects
As far as I’ve been able to discover, the health issues associated with calcium benzoate are similar to the issues described for benzoic acid.
The E number of calcium benzoate is 213.
While researching this series of posts, I wanted to find out why industry might prefer one form of benzoic acid (or salt) over another form. I couldn’t find any conclusive answer except that in many cases the salts are preferred because they are easier to dissolve.
If you want to read more, try the following links…
Canadian Food Additive Dictionary
FDA Food Additive Status List
UK Foods Standards Agency, Approved Food Additives
Food Standards – Australia and New Zealand